Business / Markets

Yuan fluctuation was not engineered, economist says

By Gao Changxin in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-03-26 08:31

Beijing didn't engineer the yuan's recent decline, according to Industrial Bank's chief economist Lu Zhengwei, as accusations surfaced that it had orchestrated the drop in preparation for a wider trading band.

In a report on Tuesday, the Shanghai-based economist pointed to the changes in the central bank's daily reference as proof that sustained appreciation against the US dollar was part of Beijing's policy planning.

The daily reference dropped just 0.8 percent to 6.143 on Tuesday from a record high of 6.093 on Jan 14, whereas the market rate slumped by 2.7 percent to 6.202 on Tuesday from a record of 6.037 on Jan 10.

"The difference shows that Beijing didn't plan for a sustained depreciation," Lu wrote.

Meanwhile, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange's recent policies focus on irregularities in fund inflow more than outflow also shows Beijing's intention is not depreciation, he added.

The People's Bank of China doubled the yuan's daily trading band to 2 percent on March 15, another step toward making the yuan a free-floating currency. Before the expansion, the yuan broke from a decade-long trend of steady appreciation against the US dollar, registering a combined decline of over 2 percent.

Investors and economists both domestic and foreign speculated that the PBOC had engineered the decline to prepare the market for wider fluctuations.

In the US, some in Congress have accused China of manipulating its currency. China needs to allow the yuan to act as a fully market-driven currency both when its value declines and, more important, when it goes up, Senator Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York and a leading congressional critic of China's currency policies, said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal on Feb 26.

Reuters reported that a US Treasury spokesperson said on March 16 that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew welcomed China's recent announcement it was widening the daily trading band in a phone call with Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang. But Lew added that Beijing has more steps to take before the exchange rate is market-determined.

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